Monday, May 25, 2009

Jump on the bandwagon with jojoba?

I received a request to blog about my take on jojoba beans (active ingredient: simmondsin). You may have heard the term jojoba in relation to cosmetics as the oil of its seeds is often used as a moisturizer. What you may not know is that a recently published book on all things health-related touted the use of jojoba beans to help raise HDL (or good) cholesterol levels and curb hunger. So my challenge is to weigh the evidence on these claims and provide my best advice about this potential wonder supplement.

Because I was not that familiar with this particular supplement to start, I started collecting data in two ways. One was through my colleagues in various professional nutrition networking groups to which I belong, and the second was through my own review of research conducted and published in peer-reviewed professional journals on this topic within the last ten years. Ultimately, none of my professional colleagues responded to my request for additional information on this supplement after multiple requests, and I believe it's because this is not a widely used supplement nor is there much known about its potential benefits.

In my review of the literature, I stumbled upon a handful of intervention studies (~10), and ALL of these studies were conducted on animals (primarily rats, but also dogs and chickens). There were no studies conducted on humans that were published in peer-reviewed journals within my search of the last ten years of data. None. So, how can we generalize the results of these studies to humans? Should we? Of the studies reviewed, most were conducted on fewer than 50 subjects (all animal subjects). For stronger data, researchers typically want >50 subjects included in the study. Most of the studies were very short-term studies lasting way less than one year, which also serves as another limitation. Apparently, earlier studies conducted on the long-term use of higher doses of jojoba meal in rats resulted in the death of said rats. So, if this happened in rats, how do we know what a safe dose is in humans, if any? Also, one study had supplements provided by and was funded by a manufacturer and supplier of simmondsin supplements. you think the results could have the potential to be biased in any way?

While very limited evidence suggests possible effects of simmondsin on appetite reduction, there is currently not enough strong evidence, especially in humans, on the safety or effectiveness available for me to recommend the use of this supplement to anyone at this time. So much for that bandwagon...


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